American speed skater Brittany Bowe will take the ice in her premier event on Thursday: the women's 1000m.
The 33-year-old from Ocala, Florida, is the reigning world champion and current World Cup standings leader in the distance. Bowe's third Olympics comes to a close following the race, and she has yet to reach the podium for an individual competition.
Bowe owns a bronze medal for the women's team pursuit in 2018. She finished fourth in the women's 1000m that year.
"I was able to win the 1000m world title, and I’m coming into Beijing as the reigning world champion, so I know I have a huge target on my back and that’s a lot of pressure," Bowe said before the Olympics. "I thrive under pressure, and it’s a privilege to have that pressure, so I’m ready and I’m excited for the opportunity."
Americans have earned medals in two of the past three speed skating events ahead of the 1000m. Erin Jackson won gold in the 500m, and the U.S. secured bronze in the men's team pursuit. Bowe said after Jackson's win that she hopes to keep the momentum going.
No American has pocketed a medal in the 1000m since Chris Witty won gold in 2002. The Dutch, meanwhile, have had skaters reach the podium in each of the last four Winter Olympics.
Jorien ter Mors, the 2018 gold medalist, is not competing, but 2020 World Champion Jutta Leerdam is a threat at 23. She finished second behind Bowe at the 2021 World Championships.
Ireen Wuest, the all-time leader in speed skating medals with 13, is competing in her final Olympic race at 35.
The other American in the field is 27-year-old Kimi Goetz. She is ninth in the current World Cup standings and will skate in the same pairing as Leerdam.